Barbara Sabol

Ballad of the Makeshift Morgue

The Millville School House, turned morgue, was one of the only buildings
remaining on its foundation after the Johnstown flood of 1889.

Dear lady, pass this way with me.
Step carefully down the rows
of coffined victims: maimed, some burned.
Shhhh; only the face will show.

We'll read the tag on each box lid
which tells what may distinguish
your husband from another chap:
old scar, a ring, a moustache.

Now bear in mind that might be all
to signify the person
who lies within a rough pine box—
what's left past recognition.

This school once hummed with minds a-brim;
John Keats and long division.
Still on the chalkboard rests the dust
of meter; decimal precision.

Now bodies stretch across the desks;
at peace or fair disfigured.
Swept down river, pried from debris,
townsfolk posed in rigor.

Benumbed by such a scene; take heart
just say, what clothes, what weight,
for I'm the one who lays them out—
I'll know your man by sight.

Just now you blanch at this next box—
so cruel, your utmost fear!
Poor woman, take my handkerchief.
Let's get you some fresh air.

Once the Flood Waters Recede

Golden Shovel from "In the Station of the Metro" by Ezra Pound

Searching through splintered remains of the
house I saw her at the window, an apparition
surely, but seeming so real—the figure of
Abigail, flawless in her green silk, gazing through the
panes of a window, since shattered. I've studied the faces
of women in tatters passing on the streets in
this shell of a city; hunted through churches, houses, by the
river, hoping to catch her in the bewildered crowd.

I find her wedding pearls, slipped from their strand like petals
of our dogwood in blossom; the shining gems scattered on
the muddied rug. As I gather them in my hand, I'm struck by a
knowing—my search is done. Oh, dreary world, a vision of wet
bare trees out of season—so many sad figures clad in black.
The storm in its fury has torn all brilliance from the bough.


Barbara Sabol's fourth collection, Imagine a Town, was awarded the 2019 Poetry Manuscript Prize from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals; most recently, Evening Street Review, One Art, Northern Appalachia Review, Literary Accents, as well as in numerous anthologies. Barbara's awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She lives in Akron, OH with her husband and wonder dogs.


Hilary Biehl
Judith Grey
Mureall Hebert
Jen Karetnick
E. R. Lutken
Marjorie Maddox
Diane Lee Moomey
Samantha Pious
Barbara Sabol
Wendy Sloan
Myrna Stone
J. C. Todd
Paulette Turco
Elaine Wilburt
Joyce Wilson


This issue of Mezzo Cammin is also dedicated to its Founder and Managing Editor for 15 years, Dr. Kim Bridgford (1959-2020). [Photo: Marion Ettinger].

The 2021 Poetry by the Sea conference was canceled due to COVID-19. The next conference is planned for May 24-27 2022.

Nicole Michaud: Throughout history, both women and fruit have been popular and enduring subjects for paintings. Women are referred to as the earth in which man plants a formed seed, distancing women from their capacity as creator. Rather, women engaging in procreation utilize the male 'pollen' to create and grow the embryonic seed of future generations.

From the Nariphon of Buddhist mythology (literal fruits shaped as women's bodies and absent bones) growing from the Makkaliphon tree, to the pomegranate of Greek mythology and the apple (or fig) of Judeo-Christian writings, women and fruit have been inextricably linked for millennia. Fruit is the basis of the temptation and fall from grace of Adam and Eve in the Bible, and serves as a treacherous precursor to conflict in mythologies such as the Greek golden apple's role in beginning the Trojan War. Women's bodies and body parts are often compared to apples, pears, melons, lemons, and other fruit. This association and dehumanization of women has facilitated an enduring mistreatment, ownership, and underestimation of capacity.

Inside, transformations are happening.

32 Poems
The Academy of American Poets
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The Cortland Review
Favorite Poem Project
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Light Quarterly
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Poetry Daily
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Poets House
Raintown Review
String Poet
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
The Yale Review

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Poetry by the Sea


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